The airbags were not included under the existing compulsory recall of Takata airbags.
About 78,000 vehicles manufactured by Audi, BMW, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Suzuki and Toyota between 1996 and 2000 and fitted with the faulty airbags with NADI 5-AT inflators were supplied in Australia.
While it is expected that many of these cars will no longer be in use, a substantial number of affected vehicles are likely to be still registered and in use.
There is a serious safety risk the airbags may misdeploy in an accident, which may cause metal fragments to propel out of the airbag at high speed, causing serious injuries or death.
There is also a risk that these airbags may underinflate.
Audi and BMW have already started voluntary recalls of affected vehicles, and the ACCC is calling on other suppliers to take urgent action to address the safety risk to consumers.
Safety authorities in Australia have received reports of three incidents involving suspected misdeployments of the airbags.
There has been a serious injury and a fatality in separate accidents involving BMW vehicles, and another serious injury resulting from an accident involving another car.
Recognising the serious safety risk, BMW already started a voluntary recall of its affected cars, including offering hire cars and buying back vehicles and recommending that consumers do not drive their vehicle.
Audi also initiated a new voluntary recall of its affected vehicles yesterday.
ACCC chair Rod Sims said even though full details and appropriate remedies were still being worked out by the manufacturers, they were issuing the warning now to urge people not to use their car if it was affected by the potentially deadly airbag.
“We want everyone to have a happy and safe holiday period and encourage people to consider alternative transport options if possible, rather than using vehicles fitted with these airbags,” he said.
“We are continuing to support the department in its work to urgently negotiate recalls with vehicle suppliers to remove these vehicles from our roads and obtain an appropriate remedy for consumers.
“The fastest way to deal with these issues is via a voluntary recall. A compulsory recall is a lengthy process but it will be considered if manufacturers do not take appropriate steps.
“If you have concerns, please contact your vehicle manufacturer.”